The Spider and the Great Big Stolen Thing, Part 6

Day 63. 166 pages, 82,613 words.

The empty light-years between stars had nothing on the distance between Dimensions, a concept all but inapplicable to spatial physics. Travel between Dimensions was only possible at relative speed – ten thousand times the speed of light – or faster. At relative speed, the traveller entered ‘soft-space’, and to all practical purposes departed from reality altogether. If one did this outside of Dimensional space – and there were points in every Dimension at which exit could be gained – the Highroads would manifest itself. Or themselves. That was when eaningful progress became possible. The relative speed drive was the basis for all inter-Dimensional travel and commerce, the cornerstone of the civilised urverse.

If, of course, one dropped below relative speed while navigating the Highroads, the result was a formless white infinity from which the only escape was accelerating back to soft-space.

Gornack the Deconstructor looked out of the porthole and into said formless white infinity, wondering why he’d ever agreed to take apart the immense piece of merchandise the Spider had stolen.

“Right,” Merdokk said briskly, jotting down calculations on a scriber. “We have twenty-seven frameworks and the object itself, each with seven engines. They need five to work in their current configuration. Six frames burned out and were lost in the shift to the Highroads. That leaves twenty-two, or one hundred and fifty-four engines. Eight of the frames have lost two engines and six have lost one, which leaves one hundred and thirty-two. Twenty of these are damaged, too risky to use, leaving a hundred and twelve. Ninety of these are in perfect condition, so I want at least ninety manageable pieces fitted out. Can you do it?”

Gornack crossed the control module’s tiny living space and looked out of the second porthole. It was a less depressing view, anyway – a view that actually looked like a view, rather than just a white circle. He cast his eyes across the collection of massive metal frames hanging in the emptiness, and the darker, bulkier shape of the object he was out here to deconstruct. He cast his eyes across its upper surface – the massive vents and pylons, the fins and ports and cables. He could also see the deep-etched dorsal lines that showed it was constructed, rather than grown.

“I can do it,” he said, striding for the airlock and his neat ranks of tools, “just don’t leave without me.”

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The Spider and the Great Big Stolen Thing, Part 5

Day 62. 160 pages, 79,959 words.

“Excuse me?”

“Why not do it on the Highroads?” the Spider stood up again, excitedly. “We go out there, stop, and you deconstruct in un-space. As each piece is ready, we can fit it with an engine. When we have a collection of manageable pieces, we’ll be able to convoy them free without any of the problems involved with moving a single giant body. No burnouts, and that means no risk of losing the merchandise or ourselves – or both – on the Highroads.”

“And once we’re all-stop out there, there’s no way the police will locate us,” Gornack mused. “I suppose I could deconstruct in un-space, at that. It’d be just like doing it in vacuum, except I wouldn’t need to wear a bio-suit.”

The Spider was pacing, his glass already empty in his hand. “I’ll get everything together out of soft-space – the original, and the decoys – and rig up a convoy system interlinking the whole lot of them,” he said. “That’s risky, and we’ll likely burn a few out – the multi-engine setup was unfortunately necessary for an item that size. But losing ships out of a convoy doesn’t derail the convoy, not like it will crash-stop a multi-field ship. Anyway, then we’ll jump out onto the Highroads and power down synchronously. Doof dealers do it all the time – two separate ships would have no chance of coming to a halt in proximity to each other on the Highroads, but two ships under one linked field can stop and start in perfect tandem.”

“I’m sure I wouldn’t know,” said Gornack primly.

“Me neither, it’s just what I heard,” Merdokk replied with a twinkle, and tossed the pad back. “Then when we’ve set up each piece with an individual engine, we make a new convoy and head back out the same way, leaving the junk behind us,” he grinned. “I’ll even throw in a little one-man ship for you. The moment you feel things aren’t going to your liking, you just get in and fly away.”

Gornack blinked. “No strings attached?”

“No strings, no questions, no hard feelings. Cut and run. Call it an insurance policy.”

“You’re going to convoy all those multi-engined bodies together for the trip in?” Gornack waved the diagrams. “Bodies of this size?” The Spider nodded. “And you want a hundred-odd pieces from the original? Each with an engine, and then you want to convoy those?”

“Yes.”

“Have you made convoys that big before?”

“Of course.”

“And navigated them successfully along the Highroads?”

“Of course.”

Gornack drained his glass, truly understanding for the first time why the stuff was called Skeg’s Courage. “Would you lie to me if you hadn’t made a convoy that big?” he demanded.

This time, the Spider’s grin was delighted. “Of course.”

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Interlude: Flaithulach

Day 61. 157 pages, 78,748 words.

Bear with me, I’m out of practice when it comes to Chucky Reports. So, I thought that maybe I had invented the term “bworst”, but a few seconds on Google convinced me that no, it was already a thing. Friday night, regardless, was a great example of one of the bworst company social events in living memory.

We’re reducing our office space and moving a lot of our folks to the home office cloud, so as a result decided to throw a little party to say farewell to the Piisp and reminisce about the many happy years spent between its walls. I was, for some reason, prevailed upon to provide a little bit of video entertainment once again. I did so, but it’s all confidential stuff so I can’t share it. I do happily acknowledge that I am rather proud of my efforts even though they make me a terrible person.

Delicious meatballs and salads were provided, and at the end of the night we were instructed to take it home lest it go to waste. I was very pleased to finally be able to bring home something from the office with which to feed my family.

Heroscape!

I was also able to bring home a game that had for some reason been in the office game cupboard for years, and was now free to take from the office “if you want it, it’s yours” table. Unopened once you got past the scuffed-up outer box. Score!

There was also some cider, lonkero and wine, and I provided a bottle of choc-minttu to general approval. Mr. Fahrenheit was back, Gerry put in an appearance, even Mr. dreameling showed up for a while out of his paternity prison. Jarmo was in excellent form as always, and in general it was a good night. Sad, as it was Taija’s final event with us, but there will be other times and she seemed to enjoy herself a lot. Post-maternity drinking is a ruthlessly efficient process. Also, she bought a copy of my book, which paid for my bus tickets to work and then home. Either I need to raise my prices, or HSL needs to lower theirs. Preferably while dying in a fire.

Call of the night would appear to belong to me (I say in all modesty), with my answer to the question “so Gerry, how did you come to be in Finland?” with an award-winning “She walked across when there was a land bridge.” Although the near-synchronous “are you my mummy?” delivered by Gerry and myself when looking at the gas masked kids in Queen’s Radio Ga Ga video has to be a close second.

My own videos, as mentioned, were well-received. Apparently some people even had trouble telling that the recording was me. Which is great, because I hated hearing my own voice on that recording. Some rave reviews included, “Thank you for your critical videos,” from our HR manager, and “At first I thought, ‘should I be getting upset by this?’ Then I realised ‘no, because it’s all true’,” from our country manager.

So, that was basically the night. A bunch of folks did go on to visit a selection of pubs but I have yet to hear back from any of them. I took my big pile of loot and headed home. And on the subject of “bworst”, let me say that opening up that double whopper with cheese and stuffing four chili cheese bites into it on my trip home was one of the bworst I’ve done to my mouth in a long time.

On the bus on the way home I started talking ranting on my phone to Mr. Brkn, missed my stop and ended up in the dark back-woods. So I got a nice little hike back to the relative civilisation of Sotunki.

So what’s flaithulach?

Look it up.

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Interlude: Yep.

Still Day 60. Still no writing done.

Oh, but on the lighter side. Some mad fool nominated Eejit for a Hugo Award, so that’s something out of the wreckage.

Thanks for the nomination, masked stranger.

Worldcon Finland 2017!

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Interlude: Nope.

Day 60. Nope nope nope.

Alright, not much to report this weekend. Toop’s birthday party was yesterday and went off very nicely, and Friday was a fun enough night out but I would need to actually get to sit and write in order to, you know, write about it. So maybe tomorrow morning. I did toy around with the idea of not doing mornings, and going later into the evenings instead, but my evenings are no good for writing.

Sigh.

Had an okay, if painfully frustrating day. I got to give Mrs. Hatboy the day off and let her go to Porvoo for a while, which was nice. I looked after the girls. Wump was great, Toop was a little monster. Finally got it into her head to not sleep, woke up at 06:30 and then only slept an hour in the afternoon. So I spent the day carrying her around. Just now got to turn WordPress on, between baths and porridge and bedtime stories. Not going to get anything written. Then a shitty week of work ahead.

Fuck it.

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Interlude: Birthdays

Day 59. Don’t expect any writing updates this weekend.

Today’s Toop’s birthday. And while it would be completely inaccurate to say I hope she doesn’t have a good day – of course I hope she has a good day, because I hope all her days are good, because I love her more than my life – I suppose that has brought me to an interesting realisation.

Now I realised this before – as a matter of fact it was the first big realisation that hit me the moment I first looked down at Wump’s face. I realised that these two girls, in a best-case scenario and if everything goes right, will outlive me by a significant margin. They will be breathing air and walking this Earth long after I am dead and gone. If I outlive them, there has been a tragic fuck-up.

But that brings me to the subject of birthdays, and something I have only come to realise now that I am a father, that I never really suspected before. I never expected this to be one of those things I learned after becoming a parent, and it might just be me. But I know at least one reader of this blog who will always be excited to hear me admit to things I did not know before, that I have learned only since becoming a father[1]. So here it is. Something I have learned, realised, or otherwise arrived at.

[1] Not that I ever said I knew everything, and on the contrary I have always said there have to be things that I would learn and change my mind about. And this isn’t really one of those things, it’s just an interesting and unexpected one I found out about myself. And maybe you figured this out before becoming a parent, or you know it already and you’re not a parent. All equally valid points. I’m just saying this is when I realised it.

I’ve always considered birthdays to be one of those fun things – good to have, a nice way to give gifts and lavish a bit of attention on someone you care about. It’s like an annual refresh-cycle on a friendship or a romance or a family relationship, a way of defragmenting the previous year of run-of-the-mill interactions and saying “hey, you. I like you this much,” and holding your hands up approximately a birthday-present-sized distance apart.

Plus, of course, it’s an excuse to have a party.

But my kids? It’s different. I can’t do it. I mean, I can do it, and I enjoy doing it, for the same reasons as above – but it’s different. And I’m beginning to realise that the way we felt about our birthdays when we were kids, and the way our parents handled it, was in a way the biggest gift they gave the entire day.

Because for me, every single day is my girls’ birthdays. I feed them and bathe them and play with them and give them gifts and hugs and tell them how much I love them. A birthday? You mean I have to give more than 100%? Not possible.

This came to me first when I tried to make birthday cards for Wump. I make birthday cards for my inner core of family and occasionally friends, but when I sat down to make a card for Wump that first time, I realised it was too much. What I felt could not go into a card. So instead I started to make her a story book. I’m still working on it, a page at a time, year in and year out. I made one for my nieces a few years before (I might post it sometime, and might even write them a new instalment one day), and it seemed right.

But even that was too difficult. It felt like I was selling short, crapping out and just giving a best-effort “meh” attempt at expressing something so big.

Birthdays? You had a birthday every day for the past three hundred and sixty-five days. But okay. Let’s do this. Cake is good, and I love you. That’s literally all I’ve got.

So, that’s it for today. In other news, and for my blogging regulars, please note that the paperback of Drednanth is available already here. I set it to propagate into Amazon as soon as possible on or around the 1st of March, but it is available here, now. You’re welcome. I know this was a quiet ittle afterthought-note, but I’ll make a bigger fanfare once it’s all up and stable. For now though, this is just a bonus for actually reading.

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The Spider and the Great Big Stolen Thing, Part 4

Day 58. 154 pages, 77,128 words.

“And I can’t deconstruct at relative speed – you’ll have to drop it out of soft-space and hide it somewhere while I work. Any ideas?”

“I know some caverns that are big enough to hold it, but I have the same problem there as on the Highroads,” the Spider brought back two more well-filled glasses and raised one in salute as he handed the second to his guest. “If the engines go while it’s embedded in solid rock, the whole thing will make a considerable mess.”

Gornack returned the toast and drank appreciatively. “Might be worth the risk,” he said. “The danger period will be a lot shorter than if you’re taking the Highroads. What other options are there?”

Merdokk leaned over, took the computer from Gornack’s hands, and looked at it for a moment. Then he looked up.

“How long will you need?” he asked.

“I’ve never tried to take one of these things apart before, but I imagine they’re built along the same standard pattern as a battle platform or an armoured Skybase. I won’t know for sure until I’m on-site. But I’ll say three hundred hours, just to be safe.”

“And you can’t deconstruct in soft-space,” Merdokk murmured consideringly, then smiled. “What about un-space?”

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